An Unexpected Writing Update

There are a few mantras you have to repeat to yourself when submitting short stories. “Keep it out there” is an important one – never let the story sit, eventually it will find a market. “Keep track of your submissions” is a super valuable one that I don’t think gets enough press. Whether you pay for Duotrope, use the amazing services of The Grinder at Diabolical Plots, or run your own homebew solution, you have to keep track of where you sent a story and when. This helps you not send it to the same editor twice, but it also let’s you keep track of how long it’s been out.

Take me. Lately, my stories have been novel length. That doesn’t mean I won’t write a short story if it bites, but most of the stories I’ve been working on of late have been, well, longer. That wasn’t always the case, and with some downtime yesterday I reviewed where I had stories pending still. To my surprise, and thanks to pure neglect, I had a few stories that had been out long past the point that I should have heard something back. So I did the only thing that made sense.

I wrote the editors and asked if they were still considering the story. This may seem a bold move if you know me, but at 100+ days, I figured it was about time.

This morning, one of the editors responded. Which is why I’m happy to share that I have my second publication (pending), a sale to the Enter the Apocalypse anthology. I don’t want to give too much away yet, but consider the story has both kaiju and vampirism in it, and this song was in my head when I wrote the first draft.

And happy Friday!

Finding my audience

Well, not literally. I don’t care what any writer tells you, published or not, we all write for the same audience – ourselves. Mostly to get the words out of our heads so they can stop feeding that annoying, screeching monkey of a conscience and give us some peace and quiet. We write to get the stories out, to clear space in our brains so other stories can come in and sit for a while. Some writers like to visit with their stories longer than others, but we’re all writing just to keep ourselves sane.

At some point, though, we have to look to who we’re going to share that writing with. It may start with friends and family, but at some point we have to figure out who, among the countless billions out there, stands the best chance of enjoying what we wrote.

For a long time, I thought my audience would be adults. Why not? By all accounts I’m an adult. My kids think I’m one, anyway, and the state of California treats me like one. I read adult books (not those adult books.)(prude.). Why wouldn’t what I write be for adults?

Then I wrote A Scent of Roses and all of that changed. I don’t want to say I was timid in the writing – I wasn’t – but despite being a full grown adult with all my adult credentials, I found the end product of my muse to be more appropriate to New Adult than full adult. (New Adult is a category of books,  post YA, pre-adult, that allows for more mature content without being 50 Shades of Peuce mature). In other words, PG-13 vs NC-17. There are certainly moments in Roses where you have to be an adult to read them, but by and large its just a fun thriller (with a strong Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The Exorcist vibe).

Why do I bring this up? Right now I’m working on short stories largely – both writing new ones and polishing old ones, sending them out and working on the next one. But last night I had a short bout of sleeplessness. I took a shower. I made my lunch for today. I wrote 1000 words in a short story. Then I sat down and did some plotting for a novel that’s been kicking around in my head.

I’ve had this character – Niki Hunter – strolling through my head, kicking ass and doing magic for a few years now. I like her. She’s awesome, both fragile (in the sense that there are limits to her powers, and when she reaches them she’s burned out and likes to hide in a bottle to dull the chaos and pain of it all) and killer (Buffy-esque)(but from the good seasons). There’s a world and plots and turmoils and Writs of Blood and the whole nine yards. What there isn’t is a finished novel.

It’s not from a lack of trying. I’ve even had novels that started off as unrelated, only to end with her walking and taking over all of the action. The problem has been finding satisfactory finishes. But rather than continue to rehash old attempts, I wanted to start fresh.

And this is where target audience comes into the discussion. (I know you were thinking I’d forgotten about it.) I started wondering, what if rather than aiming for an adult audience with all of the implications that that carries (word counts, context, etc.), what if I just aimed for that New Adult audience from the start? It means cleaning things up a little (I’m no saint), but as soon as the key was turned in that lock I filled pages in my notebook with initial plot points and dialog snippets. I think because in some ways, this was the audience that best suit my writing to begin with. Maybe that makes me a dull person.

Of course, this is all talk, just me discussing what’s rambling around in my head. I intend to continue writing short stories while I plan out this novel (I won’t call it outlining – viva la pants!). But that’s where my brain is right now. The Edward Gorey picture at the top of the page? Not a coincidence. I’ve been thinking a lot about Gorey’s work, and the books its appeared in, lately.

And in other news, the rejection list continues to mount even as the number of stories released to the wild increases. When will it end? NEVER.

 

Well, I didn’t mean to write that.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I’ve been trying to work with a new mindset lately. Almost a Badbury Method, though I think I forgot to mention the most important aspect. For now, it’s more important for me to write something interesting and enjoyable every day, even if I end up dropping the piece unfinished.

Excuse me?

It’s true. Some short stories seem like great ideas when I start them, but then a few hundred words in something peters out. Maybe the story isn’t working for me today, or maybe I just need to take a step away. This week I finished a story that I penned the original thoughts for back in May – then proceeded to write the whole story in a day and a half.

But back to why I’m blogging tonight. Today I sat down with a line stuck in my head, and ended up writing a flash piece of fiction. It was short enough that doing a redraft was trivial, and that left me with a finished product. Just sitting there. Waiting. To go somewhere.

So I sent it out.

According to my feeble accounting system, this is the first time I’ve sent something out for consideration in over a year. I don’t have high hopes – the flash fiction market is small, the number of submissions high, and my piece felt good, but didn’t feel over the top fireworks good. I will say it felt nice to have something head out into the wild again, though. Fingers crossed anyway!